LOS ANGELES - Los Angeles City Council Acting President Mitch O'Farrell announced Monday he is removing Councilmen Gil Cedillo and Kevin de León from their chairmanships and committee assignments.
Per current city council rules, a council member must remain on one committee.
O'Farrell says he hasn't spoken to de León since last Tuesday "despite my best efforts," but he is urging him again Monday to resign, and has passed along the message that he should not attend any future council meetings. Cedillo will not be attending Tuesday's virtual meeting, O'Farrell says.
Following the announcement, a spokesperson for Cedillo told FOX 11 he "is at a place of reflection. He is unavailable."
The acting president is also defending his decision to hold virtual City Council meetings this week due to possible COVID-19 exposure following Councilman Mike Bonin's positive test for the virus after attending an in-person meeting last Tuesday. Without explanation, O'Farrell says there has been a second possible exposure among the council. The Los Angeles Times is reporting that Councilman Paul Krekorian has now tested positive for the virus.
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Activists have blasted O'Farrell for calling virtual meetings this week, saying it's a move to avoid protesters who have vowed to disrupt council meetings until de León and Cedillo resign.
The council is expected to select a new council president during Tuesday's meeting. O'Farrell is not seeking the position.
De León and Cedillo have been under mounting pressure to resign since the release of the tape more than a week ago.
City Attorney Mike Feuer has officially transmitted his proposal for the City Council to immediately call a special election in the spring to vote on a Charter amendment for an interim independent redistricting process in which the L.A. County Citizens Redistricting Commission (CRC) would redraw District lines in 2023.
To complete redistricting reform, Feuer is also proposing a Charter amendment for the City to create its own independent Redistricting Commission in 2024.
"The recent release of the hateful conversation in which three City Councilmembers discussed how City Council districts should be drawn makes inescapably clear that the City needs a truly independent redistricting process to ensure the fairness and legitimacy of district boundaries and the system that establishes them," wrote Feuer in his transmittal. "We need to act urgently to begin to heal the divisions in our City, reform how our City conducts business and restore public confidence and trust."
Nury Martinez, the first Latina elected president of the Los Angeles City Council, resigned from her leadership role last week, then from the council altogether, after a leaked recording surfaced of her making racist remarks and other coarse comments in discussion with other Hispanic leaders.
Martinez said in the recorded conversation, first reported by the Los Angeles Times, that white Councilmember Mike Bonin handled his young Black son as if he were an "accessory," and described the son as behaving "parece changuito," or like a monkey. She also made denigrating comments about other groups, including Indigenous Mexicans from the southern state of Oaxaca, who she termed "feos," or ugly.
The recording, released anonymously a year after it was made, stunned and hurt many in the Black community, which makes up a little less than 9% of the city’s roughly four million residents. Concerns inside that group, which has long counted on council seats and other city posts in heavily African American neighborhoods, have been growing in recent years as the Latino share of the population has swollen to nearly half and Hispanic politicians have started assuming more high-ranking roles.
City News Service and The Associated Press contributed to this report.